JUMP TO:

Tacx Rolls out open ANT+ Trainer Profile support, Zwift/TrainerRoad/Kinomap follow

IMG_2026

Today Tacx announced and made available open ANT+ trainer profile support.  This support (technically called FE-C, for Fitness Equipment – Controls), allows any 3rd party app to control certain Tacx trainers, as part of their Tacx ‘Smart’ series of trainers.  These trainers were introduced last fall at Eurobike 2014, and were made widely available shortly thereafter.

The trainers are attractive in that they support dual ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart broadcasts.  This means that any ANT+ capable head unit (be it a Garmin device or a PowerTap Joule) can pickup the signals.  Similarly, any Bluetooth Smart device (such as those from Polar and Suunto) could conceivably pickup the broadcasts of power, speed, and cadence.

The challenge however, was that while the Tacx Smart trainers (Bushido, Vortex and Satori) broadcasts open ANT+/BLE, they didn’t allow for control of the trainer.  Instead that required the Tacx suite of applications, albeit available on Android, iOS and PC.  That also meant that one couldn’t use any of the 20+ applications that supported more open control, like that of the Wahoo KICKR.

With the Tacx FE-C control though, that fully changes.  This is in some ways one of the lesser kept secrets out there, with some news slipping out by a 3rd party back a number of months ago as to the planned support.  Still, it’ll be much appreciated by many given the lower prices of the Tacx trainers.

Supported Trainers

IMG_2028

Tacx has rolled out control within their Smart series of trainers that support resistance control.  This means that these trainers can have the resistance dynamically changed by apps as those apps see fit.  For example, if you’re climbing a hill, the app will automatically change the resistance.  Similarly, if you’re doing interval workouts the trainer will automatically iterate through different wattages.

Tacx has a number of trainers that support resistance control, but only some of them do so electronically.  And a further subset are labeled ‘Smart’ trainers, which means they have dual protocol support.  The trainers that support ANT+ FE-C (trainer control) are:

A) Tacx Bushido Smart Trainer
B) Tacx Vortex Smart Trainer

Why not other trainers? Well, Tacx has said that their other electronic trainers (such as their Genius and non-Smart series) don’t have enough channels on the older ANT+ chips within them to enable control.  Similarly, for cheaper trainers such as their Tacx Satori Smart, that doesn’t support automated (computerized) control, since it has a cable control mechanism – so that’s not supported either.

To summarize, the following trainers are not supported:

A) Tacx Satori Smart (physically cable-controlled)
B) Tacx Genius series (older non-Smart unit, they haven’t released a ‘Genius Smart’ model)
C) Tacx Bushido (non-Smart)
D) Tacx Vortex (non-Smart)
E) Anything else that’s not in the section previous to this

So how do you upgrade your trainer? Via a simple app. Tacx today released a new utility app called ‘Tacx Utility’, this app connects to your Smart series trainer and updates the trainer’s firmware.  Once upgraded, then 3rd party apps that support the ANT+ Trainer Profile can control it as they see fit.

IMG_7611IMG_7612IMG_7614

As for Android support, that’s coming shortly – Tacx is aiming for the end of June to have that complete.  If you look back to other companies that initially supported firmware updates wirelessly, such as Wahoo Fitness, it was similar with iOS first.  As I noted then – if you lack an iOS phone yourself, simply offer an iOS friend a beer in exchange for the few minutes to upgrade your trainer.  You only need it for the initial upgrade.

Supported Apps

One of the challenges that I’ve complained about with the ANT+ Trainer Control support is that it not only lacked any trainers, but lacked any apps to support it.  Thankfully, Tacx seems to have knocked out two birds with one stone.  Not only did they release the firmware update today, but the three big apps in the trainer profile space have also announced near-immediate availability of support in their lineup.

Trainer Road: Their update will allow both iOS and Desktop control of the Tacx Smart series trainers in the next few days.  They plan to roll out support later today (Tuesday).  At the same time, they’ll also release support for their desktop app control.  You can see this below.

Trainer Road is known primarily for their power-based workouts.  With this release they’ll support the ability to control the Tacx trainer for any of the workouts they have.  This includes both workouts with videos (i.e. their SufferFest videos), as well as ones without videos.  As with virtually all other electronically controlled trainers, Trainer Road supports calibration of the Tacx Smart units as well.

2015-05-29_11-50-10 IMG_1461

Kinomap: Longstanding trainer app Kinomap has also added this in effective this past Thursday, primarily on the Android side where ANT+ connectivity is a bit cleaner/easier to achieve than on iOS.  With iOS they’re still working through what level they’ll support it, though it sounds like direct Bluetooth Smart control is likely to happen (since the Tacx Smart trainers support that).

Whereas on Android there are numerous phones that have built-in ANT+ connectivity, such as the majority of recent generation Samsung phones.

device-2015-05-06-173837

Zwift: Finally, we’ve got Zwift.  Zwift quietly implemented support for the Tacx trainers a while back – though you wouldn’t know it otherwise.  As long as you upgrade your trainers firmware first, you can then scan for the trainer using the usual Zwift option, which will in turn find the trainer and allow you to control it.  Super simple.

Zwift is most well known for their massive online multiplayer 3D world that’s attracted thousands of cyclists (or tens of thousands by Zwift’s released numbers).  You can earn points and prizes based on your interactions within the environment and other players.  They recently announced switching to a public/open beta program – meaning you no longer have to wait in line for an invite.

PerfPro: Just as a quick post-publishing update, I received confirmation from the folks behind this popular trainer app that they’ll support the ANT+ FE-C (and thus by extension the Tacx Smart Trainers) in their next update.  Definitely good news – especially so for the many cycling studios that use this software for multi-person sessions.

Veloreality: In another post-publishing update, they’ve also confirmed plans to support FE-C in the near terms (days/weeks). Update again: Beta details available here.

Maximum Trainer: The Maximum Trainer app has also announced compatibility, you can find details on their news page.

Final Thoughts

IMG_2064

(Above: The Tacx ANT+ Android micro-USB Adapter, Tacx ANT+ USB Desktop Adapter, and ANT+ iOS Adapter)

There’s no doubt this is a massive move for Tacx.  They’ve had some extremely competitive trainer offerings price-wise with the Bushido & Vortex Smart, but their app software has always been a bit of their Achilles heel for the company – causing some users to look at more open options (mainly the Wahoo KICKR, but also the CycleOps PowerBeam Pro).

With the open ANT+ FE-C though, that will quickly enable more than just these three major trainer apps to support the Tacx trainers.  In fact, I can’t foresee a scenario at this point where all of the 20+ apps don’t have FE-C support by the Eurobike/Interbike timeframe.  There’s just no reason for them not to, especially since it opens up such a huge customer base at a lower price point than any other trainers.

Now, I do expect there will probably be some growing pains over the next few months – but hopefully Tacx will iterate quickly, ensuring that by time the North American trainer season hits this fall, things are smoothed out.  The more apps that sort out those issues now, the cleaner it’ll be later.

As for other trainer companies adopting the standard?

Well, Elite has long-committed to it for a large chunk of their resistance-controlled trainers.  They had initially said by the end of December, then January, then February – and then finally said they were pushing it till Summer in preparation for the 2015-2016 trainer season.  I’d imagine that the Tacx move will get that settled out rather quickly.  In the European market the two companies compete head to head much more than in the US market.

Then you’ve got BKOOL, another mid-cost player.  And also another one that’s long since promised it. In fact, BKOOL committed to it before everyone else – even demoing it years ago.  Yet, they’ve since backed away from any commitments, angering numerous folks who purchased units based on those statements, in the process.  While their BKOOL apps support the FE-C control protocol, their trainers themselves do not – effectively locking you into the BKOOL software.  At this point, there is little reason to buy a BKOOL trainer over a Tacx trainer.

Finally, you’ve got CycleOps and Wahoo.  In many ways, they already offer much of what the FE-C aimed to provide – an avenue for apps to control trainers.  Both companies readily gave developers access to control their trainers – and as we saw last year, developers took advantage of that – adding support for both trainers quite widely.  So while it’d be easier for 3rd party developers if all trainers used the same protocol, I’m not sure it’s really a high priority for either company at the moment.

Oh – as for trainer recommendations in general, it’s just too soon there.  Most companies release trainers at Eurobike the last few days of August, so I’d really encourage folks to wait and see how thinks shake out then.  If you’re Down Under though and need something more immediate – I’d focus on either the Tacx Smart series at the mid range, or the Wahoo/PowerBeam at the higher end.

With that – thanks for reading!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

 Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

237 Comments

  1. Jian Chen

    Great post! Thanks. Any idea whether or not Wahoo is going to upgrade their Kickr soon? It’s been on the market for a while, so I am wondering whether they have a new model in the pipeline?

    Thanks, Jian

    • AJeffrey

      I was wondering the same thing. Would it be worth holding off purchasing one for now (although it is winter in Aus) .What new functionality would a new version potentially have?

  2. Being a Vortex owner (the non-smart version) this is a long expected move, but seeing my trainer with no possibility of update makes me think again that Tacx only cares for their current lineup. It’s tollay legit, but a trainer is not a cheap accesssory you can change every time a new feature appears. Also Tacx Trainer Software is not the best software out there and their policy of charging for the gps addon of Google Maps is also not customer-friendly I think. I think their harware offerings are ok, but they are not a customer-oriented company rather a product-oriented one.

    • Eli

      Doesn’t look like its cause they only care about their current lineup but that the other trainers don’t have the hardware to add this functionality.

      As to charging for google maps access, it isn’t free so they kind of have to: link to developers.google.com

    • Georg Sanderson

      That is a very polite way of putting it.
      The TACX Trainer SW had been a major pain. I had gone through V2 and V3 and will not try V4. All bad things happening after your 1hr into your training. Not mentioning the 15minutes to engage it at every start.
      “Support” only happened through the TACX community/forums. TACX never provided support. Before you buy TACX – check out their forums on all of their not-so-happy users.

    • John Jefferson

      I have had a TaCX 2010 Smart for a couple of months, with V4 software. Been thru V1-V3 pain. But my point is this, with all the third party apps appearing is TACX software even relevent any more. I have not used it once since purchase! RLV’s etc, just cannot see where TACX go with some of their soft products now.

  3. Dieter Neirinck

    Vortex Smart is looking like a very sweet deal for an open platform resistance controlled trainer at 299 EUR online. That’s going to hurt wahoo in europe…

  4. Tim

    Interesting that it’s the lack of channels that is stopped support for some of non-Smart trainers – couldn’t see anything on the Tacx forum beyond an unspecified hardware incompatibility. Seems odd at face-value though, given they can support the existing control over ANT+ plus HRM, cadence and external power-meter (is that all at them same time?). Personally, i’d swap out my HRM to free up a channel it that made a difference although from a protocol and resource viewpoint i’m sure there’s something that could be done in software anyway.

    It’s a start though, fair play to them.

  5. Kai

    What a landslide this is! If only I had seen this coming when I bought my Satori Smart some moons ago… ;-)

    And I agree, it will hurt Kickr sales big time, especially because Tacx uses the more traditional Wheel-On-Roller approach.

    BTW, another “You read it here first”, DC, Chapeau! ;-)

  6. Bart

    Great news, was just looking at the Tacx trainers the past few day and was holding back a little because of the closed control (a needing their app)
    Now they add open ANT+ Trainer Profile support making the device more attractive.
    But is there an Bluetooth Smart resistance control Profile or something like that?
    As i read they control the unit via Bluetooth OR ANT+ but for now only the ANT+ specs are followed.
    When adding open Bluetooth Smart resistance control the step for connecting it to a laptop or PC would be much smaller. And buying “pro” software from them or any other company.

  7. BobV190

    Wow … glad I sold my legacy Bushido this winter and picked up a brand new Vortex Smart for $450. Looking forward to updating the firmware, then suffering up the big climbs of Watopia…

  8. Awesome news. I was thinking of picking up a Kickr this fall but the price was hard to justify, now I have more affordable options with Tacx.

  9. Ed

    All Genius owners please send an email to support@tacx.com for requesting FC-E support for the Genius.

    Tacx is investigating this option so please all send your request. Even Zwift was asked to forward emails concerning Genius compatibility to Tacx. See comments on news of Tacx support

    • Scott E

      Grrrr.

      Yes, as Ray said, they will need time to work the bugs out. Found that out the hard way by purchasing an iGenius in the first place. On the surface this sounds like a watershed moment, yet like other companies that have weak support for their products, don’t be surprised to be spending time on the support forums and in need of tracking support emails.

    • Yeah, it might be a bit better this time because they’ve been working on it for a heck of a long time. Like…6+ months kinda long time since it first hit internal beta. And these 3rd party apps have had it for some while as well, so hopefully their feedback loop was included (if required).

  10. Ramon

    Thanks for the briljant piece of reading for me as an bushido smart owner…

    Really looking forward what the new apps will mean for the currently non-exsisting possibilities of importing home made cyclingmovies.. Hope we will be able to import them one way or the other to re-ride climbs or flat-out kilometers done in summer..

    Will for sure be comming back here to see if there are updates

  11. Ian S

    Good move by Tacx, very disappointing that they are leaving the customers of their most expensive products high and dry though. To have committed plan for genius, ironman, et al, is poor. Especially as they are still selling the products as the top end versions….

  12. Hefin

    The “Power Match” config on Trainer Road looks very interesting. Looks like I could use my proper PM to control the resistance of the Tacx trainer. If that works I’d be very tempted!

  13. Sounds interesting as my ageing Tacx Flow that I use in conjunction with TrainerRoad could do with being replaced soon and having automatic resistance adjustment from TrainerRoad to my trainer would be just the ticket.

    Does this mean that If I were to buy a Tacx Vortex Smart or Tacx Bushido Smart that I don’t need to buy the additional Upgrade Smart software package (link to tacx.com), or do I still need this in conjunction with the trainer itself to enable communication between the trainer and a laptop?

    Thanks,
    Al.

    • You wouldn’t need the Upgrade Smart software package. You’d just need to update your Tacx trainer beta firmware with a smart phone and you’d be good to go!

      At least that’s how I understand it all…I haven’t tried this myself.

    • Well I HAVE connected it via FE-C :). So actually, yes, I have tried it :).

    • Bart

      Nate, can TrainerRoad control the smart Tacx on Bluetooth smart only?.
      Or do we need a dongle to add ANT+ to our PC (part of the Tacx Upgrade Smart software package)
      My laptops and PC’s already have bluetooth smart build in so that path would be easier.

    • Sorry for the late reply! I didn’t setup my comments back correctly…

      We can’t control any Tacx trainers via BT smart at the moment. If Tacx develops something like this we’ll jump on it right away.

    • bart

      Nate quick question, i’ve set up my tacx vortex and for an interval it works fine for 4/5 pf the interval but then the resistance become huge and even when I shift to my lowers gear I’m above the wattage the app says.

  14. Great move by TACX – instantly making the KICKR less attractive at it’s price point.

    One thing KICKR has added recently though is for the turbo to be controlled via the power from a dedicated power meter. What this means is that the Kickr will not have any power variation from say your Garmin Vectors, because it can use readings from those instead of it’s own power meter, which is spot on for consistency inside and out. Before this I often saw 20-30w difference between the two.. This works with Trainer Road and the Wahoo app so far (there may be others…).

    Is this something that the TACX trainers offer too Ray?

    Cheers

    Ian

    • Hefin

      Ian, see my comment above. I guess it depends on the app that makes use of the interface. The “Power Match” tab in Trainer Road certainly looks like it’s offering that functionality.

    • Hefin is correct. It’s more of a 3rd party app item than it is a trainer company item.

  15. Jeff K

    Kudos to the person who came up the the FC-E acronym. I really hope they were choosing between two acronyms and this one was #2. “Who goes with #2? Unanimous? OK, we’re going #2 – FC-E” You crazy ANT technical people.

  16. Golfect

    My post about I-genius
    It genius trainer really???
    link to forum.tacx.com

  17. John

    Does either the Bushido Smart or Vortex Smart support 142mm thru axle hubs?

  18. E Kutter

    How does the Tacx compare to the Kickr in terms of smoothness, responsiveness, and feel? When you hit a hill on Zwift Island, does the visual on screen match the effort level change? There is a bit of a lag with the Kickr but not bad. I assume build quality still doesn’t match the Kickr? Do you see the Kickr coming down in price with this change in competition?

    I got rid of my original Tacx Bushido because of the poor software and support. They had great ideas, just too many problems that they didn’t deal with well. Then they started charging for google earth integration after the fact.

  19. Mark P

    Bought a Vortex a few weeks ago after reading Ray’s trainer rundown – pretty happy now! :)

    (seems a bargain now, paid £250GBP)

  20. Tim M

    Picked up a Smart Vortex just over a week ago on an Amazon Daily Deal for £160 so very happy !

    I have upgraded the firmware to version 3.1.7 but when using Zwift there still seems to be no resistance applied at present. I followed the instructions from the Tacx support forum which suggests it should work now before Zwift roll out another update. Zwift can see the trainer via my Suunto USB ANT+ stick and reports the Watts etc. but no resistance.

    Probably doing something wrong or I need to wait for the next update to Zwift.

    • Matt B

      Had the same problem with the Bushido Smart.
      Make sure you connected to the FE-C device and not the power-meter. (in Zwift the FE-C device takes a bit longer to show up in the selection list – that’s why I connected to the powermeter only – I was too eager to check it out…:)

    • Tim M

      Not sure what I did wrong yesterday but I now have Zwift controlling the resistance on my Tacx Smart Vortex so very happy with the update.

  21. n8udd

    I’m trying to work out what the cheapest trainer is to buy so that I can use Zwift? Looks quite appealing to get some miles in this winter!

  22. Paul

    This is brilliant news. The tacx software isn’t bad but you can’t even save a workout and then export. My main issue with that was i run a power meter and would have liked to do some overlay comparisons to adjust between trainer and road. This should make things much simpler by using different apps. 25watts difference btw to my quarq.

  23. Stuart Brown

    I was lucky enough to get a Bushido Smart as a replacement for a Bushido BLE last August.

    I’ve got a Mio Cyclo 505 computer that I use to control the trainer when I don’t want to set up the PC. This was the only computer to support Tacx Smart trainers pre this announcement. If I update my trainer, will it stop the Cyclo being able to control the trainer?

  24. Ian

    Great article. Any idea if Tacx plan to open up control via BLE?

    Thanks,
    Ian

  25. This is great news. I hope that Elite take notice. Their Real Muin trainer is great – fantastically quiet – but the software is awful ant Ant+ connection problems.

    If Elite decide to lurch into action on the basis of this Tacx news, then it will change the game.
    If you live in an apartment then you will find it very difficult to get any quieter than the Real Muin.

  26. Bertrand

    Just wondering if the Tacx software will work with the Kickr now? They do have some of the best videos……

    • Andy

      Great question; Ray, do you have any idea?

    • I don’t believe so. The Tacx software is currently only working with Tacx trainers via their private channel. Even if they did switch over to using FE-C instead (logical at some point), the KICKR isn’t using FE-C.

      The KICKR uses something very similiar (since FE-C has some roots in what Wahoo did), but it’s not exactly the same. Once Wahoo adopts FE-C, and if Tacx also adopted FE-C within their software, it would work.

      Given Tacx likely would very much like to make the revenue on the software side, I’d guess at some point they’ll support it. Especially since there’s not many reasons to not buy a Tacx trainer now given they are extremely competitive price-wise.

  27. Carlos

    Hi Ray….do I need to have an Ant+Wahoo dongle connected to my Ipad or Iphone in order to download the new firmware? I have the Vortex Smart and followed the instructions, however, when I press scan, that’s all it does. My Ipad has BLE and this is how I’m trying to download. Thxs!

    • Peter

      No, you should try with your iPhone. The Utility app is not available for iPad yet.

    • Another Carlos ;-)

      I updated my Vortex Smart with an iPad Air 1 using Bluetooth. Like the other Carlos mentions when you press scan, that’s all it does. I think you have to swipe down when it detects the trainer which in turns prompts you to update the firmware if required. Not the most intuitive of apps IMHO.

  28. Tim

    anyone know if a UK Tacx Vortex Smart will run on US mains voltage (110/120 60hz) with a simple plug adapter rather than needing a full-on transformer?

  29. Carlos

    Tim…..yes, the simple adapter will suffice.

  30. Jonas S.

    With all the added features to trainers and related software, what do you think about creating “fake” GPS files and uploading them to Strava and the alike taking away KOMs and so on, as trainers can rarely reflect the real environment properly? I’ve seen so many KOMs taken by people on trainers in the NYC area, mostly on segments you can never achieve speeds achievable in the real world, e.g., due to road layout, etc. It’s just a bit annoying pushing yourself to your limit and then someone sitting on a trainer takes away all the hard earning rankings. Not that they didn’t put in any effort, it’s just not comparable.

    • Most trainer apps are basically cooperating with Strava to ensure that such faked segments aren’t uploaded (Strava prohibits it). There’s really only a handful of apps out there, and in this portion of the industry, everyone kinda knows everyone – so it’s easy to police.

      Do you have an example app that’s actually uploading indoor segments and tagging them as outdoors? I’d be happy to run it down…

    • Jonas S.

      Hi Ray, thanks for getting back to this. I don’t have an actual app, but here’s a segment, where basically nearly all of the top 20 are done on a trainer (most are even called TacX Tours NYC Marathon): link to strava.com

    • Isn’t there still an issue with Zwift in that rides on there are recorded as normal rides (eg not trainer ones) on Strava and thus climbing and distance stats are included in challenges and the like?

    • Nick ward

      BKOOL sadly does this… you have to manually change the activity to stop it looking like a real outdoor ride

  31. Steve_n_Houston

    Based on my very poor experience with a non-upgradeable Bushido, I would not be the least bit surprised if folks end up training more in software engineering than cycling.

    I guess I’ll wait and see, but considering the cost of my original Tacx boondoggle, I’m reluctant (to put it mildly) to jump out of the TacX frying pan, just to end up in the Tacx fire.

  32. Al

    Having not done much research on this, can anyone tell me if the ‘Smart’ Tacx trainers are multiple-user friendly?We have a Tacx i-Vortex (doh!) and I haven’t actually used it as all of the settings on the computer / controller are set for my partner. I haven’t worked out if (and how) to change them so that I can use the trainer… Would be good to know if a) I am missing something really easy with the i-Vortex and b) if it would be simple to change these settings on the Vortex Smart…

  33. JoeriB

    Would this mean with trainerroad you don’t need the Wahoo dongle anymore on IOS devices? IIf te trainers broadcast speed,cadence and power there’s only need for a dual ant+ BLE heart rate strap to display it on IOS and Garmin devices?

    If that’s te case I’m biying a Vortex Smart for this winter! Unless somebody comes up with a cheaper alternative…

    • Right now, it’s just ANT+ control. So while TrainerRoad and others can pickup the generic Bluetooth Smart Power/Speed/Cadence signals, they need the ANT+ adapter to control the trainer over FE-C.

      I asked Tacx about Bluetooth Smart control for 3rd parties and they noted they are working through some options, specifically with Kinomap and TrainerRoad. However, it’s still in the feasiability phase right now as they’ve gotta work through validating there is enough processing power to do all four functions concurrently (they do A-C today concurrently):

      A) ANT+ generic power/speed/cadence broadcast
      B) ANT+ FE-C broadcast/control
      C) Bluetooth Smart generic power/speed/cadence broadcast
      D) Bluetooth Smart trainer broadcast/control

    • Bart

      Good news Tacx is looking at all options but at the moment (if i understand it right) they do all functions concurrently already.
      Quote (Tacx):
      You may connect a Tacx Smart trainer to your smartphone, tablet or computer with ANT+ or Bluetooth® Smart.
      Meaning they (Tacx) can control the trainer over bluetooth, if they can do it is there a problem for letting others (TrainerRoad, Kinomap) do the same right now.

    • True, so that would really make for 5 things at once*, likely the cause for processing concerns.

      E) Tacx Private Bluetooth Smart trainer control

    • gabe

      is this still accurate today? the tacx vortex does not do option D – at least it’s showing up very inaccurate compared to the ANT+ FE-C

  34. Craig

    TACX have only said that this will work on “Zwift, TrainerRoad, Kinomap and Bkool software”. Will other software apps like Cycleops Virtual Training be automatically compatible (via BLE) or is there some work to be done (either via TACX themselves or Cycleops)?

    Ray – I’m in the market for a new trainer (I’ve been using the original Fluid for almost 10 years so its time!) and need it now (southern hemisphere).. I’ve ruled out any trainers that require me to remove the back wheel so was going to just go with the Powerbeam until I saw this post.. TACX now looks very attractive. Can you give me a comparison of the feel of the Powerbeam vs the Vortex (or Bushido).

    PS: I see that CleverTraining won’t ship TACX internationally but other online sites (eg chainreactioncycles) will.

    • Ekutter

      Why rule out removing the rear wheel? First couple times it’s a pain but has lots of advantages. Calibration isn’t changing based on tire pressure, no tire wear, never any tire slippage, no tire dust, may be quieter. I’ve never understood this aversion to removing the rear wheel.

    • Craig

      I guess its just convenience. My bike is either in the back of my car or on the trainer so there is lots of movement. The quicker the better.. Cost wise the kickr now looks very expensive given the TACX announcement and I can’t get a Bkool where I live so not many rear wheel free options anyhow.

    • Digi

      That’s why I like the Wahoo…for the reason Ek mentioned. Fortunately, I have a dedicated bike (or will have) this fall which will have it’s wheel removed permanently. I currently have a spin-bike, and like it a lot, but there’s no power meter option nor controller for Zwift-type functionality.

      It seems that if I were to design a trainer, it would be more modular where you can swap parts/techno pieces easily w/o having to buy a whole new unit.

      I’ll wait until Fall to see what Wahoo comes out with…or just buy their current Kickr as this stuff will keep changing like all tech does.

    • We for one thing always had the intention of supporting this new protocol in our software but postponed the implementation due to the lack of FE-C trainers on a market. Right after this announcement we’ve ordered trainer from Tacx. As soon as it arrives we will make our software compatible. Should not take more then few days hopefully.

    • Thanks – just added that to the post.

    • We’ve just release beta with support for ANT FE-C trainers and tested it with Tacx Votex Smart. Seems to work just fine. Go to “software releases” section of Veloreality’s forum to get beta software. Also Ray did supply download link in this article’s section for Veloreality

      Thanks Ray

    • Correction/addition. FE-C support is no longer beta. It is in production version

  35. Griffin

    “Oh – as for trainer recommendations in general, it’s just too soon there. […] I’d really encourage folks to wait and see how thinks shake out then.”

    Sage advice there, I’m really looking forward to the inevitable trainer showdown this fall. Ray’s 2015-2016 Winter Trainer Review will be very interesting reading without a doubt. I, for one, am hoping that this latest news really spurs Elite into action with their Real Turbo Muin. I think a viable competitor to the Kickr is in every top- end consumer’s best interest.

  36. Eugene Zheng

    Where does the TACX Ironman trainer fall into?

  37. Martin

    Hi – bit confused…If I purchase a T2780 Bushido Smart or a T2180 Vortex Smart, is that all I need to be able to hook the trainer up with TrainerRoad on my PC? I have a Garmin Edge 500 and GSC10 speed/cadence sensor with a Garmin ANT+ dongle already…. I’m happy to upgrade the firmware on the trainer with an iPhone, but I don’t really want to be doing the TrainerRoad rides/videos on an iPad..I can’t figure out from all the info i’m reading if I still need to purchase the Upgrade Smart package or not? I think Bart touched on this further up the chain as well. Any help/advise much appreciated!!

    Thanks guys

  38. Kostas

    Is there an advantage of having an app controlled trainer for TrainerRoad or Zwift if you already have a power meter? Can someone explain how it works? My power output surely must depend on my cadence right?

    TIA!

    • KW

      I’ve been using TR on a Kinetic trainer with their inRide power “meter”, and it’s been great. But it does mean that hitting your power targets depends on you maintaining focus and effort. In a given gear, there is a specific cadence required to hit your power target — if you back off that cadence, your power output declines.

      With a “smart” trainer, the trainer’s resistance can be continuously controlled via the software to increase resistance if your cadence declines, or decrease resistance if your cadence increases, all resulting in hitting your power targets. Have a look at the TR workout library and see the results of various riders’ attempts — you can spot the ones on smart trainers right away as the power levels are precise and consistent.

      Is this an advantage? Perhaps. With a Kinetic, I find sometimes my target power can be hit only at, say, 87 rpm in one gear but if I shift to the next larger cog the required cadence is 95 rpm. In this scenario, there’s no way to hit the target power at a cadence somewhere in between (like 92 rpm). On a smart trainer, you forget about shifting gears and just pedal at 92 rpm — the trainer will adjust the resistance to hit the power target at that cadence.

      I do see a potential drawback, though, in that hitting your target power would appear to require less focus with a smart trainer. Which might mean you don’t train the mental focus necessary to sustain a high level of intensity out on the road. I’m speculating here, since I haven’t used a smart trainer with TR.

      If I were getting a new trainer, I’d look at the Tacx. (Or, more likely, I’d wait and see if this announcement shakes up the smart trainer landscape a bit more, especially since this is the “off season” for much indoor training, at least for me, and I can easily wait a few months). But since I’m happy with my current setup, I don’t see the incremental advantage being worth ditching my existing setup and springing for a new one.

    • Kostas

      Thanks KW, this makes more sense now!

  39. James

    Turbo trainers aren’t just for Xmas they are for life (see what I did there)

    While some people do perhaps use the turbo more in winter, I Find myself using it more during the tri season as I can only ride on the weekends and therefore do all my other sessions on my turbo during the week.

    So any new releases with regards to turbos are always appreciated at the start of the season for me.

  40. JackD

    If I purchased a power meter (for arguments sake lets say a Stages one) and then used it alongside one of the Tacx smart turbos would that then allow the turbo to read off the power meter and change resistance accordingly?

    If I bought these two separately I would have the benefit of being able to use the power meter outstide aswell as training with power inside for less than the cost of a Kickr!?!

    Trying to find a flaw with this option.

    • It depends on the app, but in the case of TrainerRoad – yes it would.

      The only flaw in this option is that Stages is left-only, which does have some variability in it that depends on the person.

    • Craig

      Hi, in this scenario (Stages, Tacx Smart, + iPad as a device) does one still need an ANT+ dongle on the iPad to transmit resistance changes to the Tacx?

    • Nico Moenaert

      Hello Craig,

      Yes, you do need an ANT+ dongle for now. Tacx plans to open up resistance control via bluetooth with third party software at some point in the future. (found on the trainerroad sit).

  41. Kostas

    Wahoo Kickr has a built-in power meter right? The TACX ones do not as far as I can tell. Would they be using TrainerRoad’s virtual power to determine power output and would that as a result make them less accurate?

    • Digi

      From Tacx’s website:

      The wireless Bushido has a powerful braking system which offers a maximum resistance of 1400 Watt. The system, fully incorporated in the housing, consists of a motor brake and a 2 kg software-simulated flywheel. This helps you to obtain a supple pedal stroke on steep climbs. The handlebar computer shows, through its graphical display, all the necessary training information, such as power output, heart rate, cadence, speed and time.

      Still like the wheel-off approach vs on. Ymmv.

    • We get power directly from the Tacx Trainer. I believe they calculate power from a roll down calc + brake resistance + wheel speed. That’s the same way that the computrainer does it.

      I’m not 100% sure on that though, they might have strain gauges in their trainer…so take my comment with a grain of salt.

  42. Laszlo A

    Hey I no Apple device around, and want to try this.
    Does anyone have the Vortex Smart 3.1.7 firmware file I can use to updte the trainer trough TTS4?

  43. Dustin

    Ray,

    Have you spent much time with InsideRide’s new ANT+/BLE control add-on for their rollers? It seems that those, paired with TrainerRoad (or Zwift for more fun/entertainment), would be the ultimate setup for training… I’ve seen you mention them and the aforementioned add-on, but I haven’t really seen you say what you thought of the setup thus far. I’m really torn between just getting a Wahoo Kickr, or waiting for the all of the kinks to get worked out on the InsideRide ANT+/BLE control unit (and it actually coming to market) and buying that instead.

    What do you think?

    • It’s a great unit, it’s just a question of whether you prefer rollers or trainers. It’s really a totally personal one, like Apple Pie vs Peach Pie. For me personally, I kinda prefer being able to zone out a bit more, whereas with rollers you’re totally focused on not falling off (me anyway). For others of course (and probably after a bit of practice), the dynamics might change.

    • Dustin

      Thanks for the info. I guess I’ll just spend more time with my current rollers and trainer to try to figure out what I’d like to invest in for the long term. Thanks again!

    • Todd

      I have the e-motion rollers and am helping with the beta testing on the electronics piece that has bluetooth LE and ANT+. It is awesome. These rollers were already superb. With the ERG mode controlling them from either Zwift or TrainerRoad, you really get a road-like feel to your training rides. Loving them.

  44. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Ray, are there any apps out there besides Zwift that support FE-C? I just ordered a Vortex based on the FE-C profile and it doesn’t seem like a single one says yes on your link to dcrainmaker.com guide.

    • Sylvester Jakubowski

      Looks like the guide needs to be updated, but so far I see Zwift, TrainerRoad and Kinomap as supporting FE-C.

    • Lee Parker

      Im in the same boat, Bought the Vortex Smart so far ive tried it with both TrainerRoad and Zwift and works exactly as expected. Will try some of the Video style trainers and update

    • Yeah, they all just announced support three days ago. ;)

      It’s on my list here to knock out this weekend. Just underwater a bit being constantly travelling for the last…well…few weeks.

    • Zan

      Lee, how does the vortex perform on steeper climbs? The website says it can simulate slopes up to 7%. How responsive is the resistance changes to changes in slope in zwift?

  45. lughnasadhuk

    If I purchase a Tacx Vortex Smart am I right in thinking that I can access the speed and cadence info on my Garmin watch but if I want to use the ANT+ resistance from a PC I would need to purchase a separate ANT+ USB dongle?
    If so, what ones are compatible – are they all open connection and would work to communicate between the turbo and software like Zwift?

    • From a PC, yes, you’d need an ANT+ adapter. Any ANT+ adapter you’ll find these days will work just fine with Zwift. For example, this one on Amazon for $28: link to amazon.com

    • Owen

      Hi Ray, I would like to support you by using the amazon link to buy my Ant+ adapter but the adapter the link takes you to is £38 + £10pp – the same product is available from another seller for £19.98!! Maybe a .com vs .co.uk thing?

  46. Kai

    I made my first experiments with my now new Bushido Smart (with ANT+ FE-C firmware 3.1.7 uploaded) and TrainerRoad (which updated itself recently) both on iPad and PC.

    Since I am recovering from an injury (hence have lots of time to tinker) I was training in the low 150W region and came under the impression, that the power control on the Bushido Smart with TR is a bit “laggy” and not that precise.

    I looked at workouts on TR others did with the KICKR and that one seems to have a “tight” control of the power. Maybe it’s because of the low power regime I was training in.

    Anyone with similar/different experiences out there?

  47. Luca Truchet

    you know if it works with Tacx IRONMAN?

    thanks a lot

  48. Thanks for the news Ray. This is great news for developers as well.
    FE-C was not implemented because no trainer was using it. Now that changes things.
    MaximumTrainer will also support FE-C Trainer. Update will come later this week with a lot more.
    Hopefully we can rise in your “three big apps” rank soon!

  49. RobHug

    Hi Ray,

    Some good stuff here. A question – have you had any contact with BKOOL about them implementing his new Ant+ protocol?

    I posted on their Facebook page as did at least one other with only a basic reply of ‘we’ve passed your enquiry to the relevant division/person’

    Their trainers seem to be perfect competition to Tacx but they seem reluctant. Cheers

    • TomCat

      I made an inquiry about this…

      ” Thanks for your message. Our trainer does not currently support the ANT+ Power protocol. We cannot confirm if it will do in the next future, we are sorry.

      See you at Bkool, ”

      Which seems to mean it can, but not with the current firmware. Despite this, their trainer is the most realistic in regards to smooth transitions on grades with the effects of momentum and inertia depending on speed. Something to which the Tacx smart trainers are lacking.

    • When I get back to Europe in the morning I’ll try and poke them a bit more.

      The hardware is 110% capable of it, as I’ve ridden it two years in a row with the beta variants of the FE-C (ANT+ Trainer Profile) on it. Heck, I was even the poor sucker that got volunteered to go up on stage during the ANT+ Symposium and be an independent rider on it.

      Obviously again, that was beta, but still – they were the first company to demonstrate it two years ago. I suspect the real reason that they don’t want to open it up is that the likely just break even on their trainer itself, and instead make their money via the software subscription services.

    • RobHug

      Sounds like they’re not charging enough for the trainer then. Especially if the Tacx direct competitor version is $699NZD and theirs is $399NZD. Oh well looks like Tacx may be the one for me then.

    • Ryan

      Hi Ray,
      Any info from Bkool would be great – I’ve tried a couple of times with no luck.

      I get what you’re saying about breaking even on the hardware – if they made it FE-C compatible, they could definitely up the price – and I wouldn’t mind having to pay for a firmware upgrade to my Bkool pro to help them cover costs.

      If they don’t do something very very soon ill be dumping mine and going for a Tacx or Kickr – I can’t wait to use Trainer Road and Zwift!

    • I sold my bkool on for that very reason; if their software platform was the best then maybe I would have stayed, but it isn’t a patch on TrainerRoad, or Zwift, in both features and how robust it is.

      I actually got a Tacx Bushido Smart following that but got equally frustrated with their software, so took that back and paid out for a Kickr (which is excellent) – however I would probably have stayed with the Tacx if they had FE-C then.

      There is definitely a lesson for BKOOL there I think…

    • RobHug

      I’ve asked yet again on FB – unfortunately their silence is deafening!!

    • RobHug

      Ray – I had a reply from BKOOL – basically they said they have no plans to introduce the new Ant+ protocol. Guess I won’t be buying their product then.

    • JoanR

      I guess they want to protect their software revenue stream. It’s a shame because you could have a killer combo with TrainerRoad or Zwift. I also sold my Bkool to get a Kickr just to be able to use TR.

    • RobHug

      I r just bought a Tacx so they lost me as a customer as well.

  50. Ewan

    Hi Ray,

    Just had to sell my spin bike as downsizing so will now be relying on a trainer for my indoor cycle efforts. Have to share with my partner whose bike is 9 speed rear vs my 11 so I presume the kickr would be a hassle having to swap cassettes? This leaves me looking at the cyclops powersync and the Tacx vortex smart. Given the vortex smart seems to be available for £250 vs £500 for the cyclops, is there an argument that could justify the powersync? Is the power measurement more accurate? Quieter?
    Many thanks for your help!

    • Unfortunately, there’s little to justify the PowerSync being single-protocol these days.

    • It did occur to me that with a kickr running in Erg mode you don’t ever really need to change gear because the software is adjusting resistance based on your session setup, and if you spin a faster cadence the power does not alter.

      So I wonder if you could live without changing the cassette so long as you stayed in one gear that worked across 9 and 11 speed – something with the same gear inches? Just a guess, though I am sure someone here can confirm if this is a stupid idea or not!

  51. Sagar

    Just wanted to give people a headsup, esp. people buying it form countries where there are no Tacx distributors, to be a little wary of reliability. I bought a Vortex Smart just last week based on this post, and after two rides, it’s now refusing to turn on. Tacx support says that its likely that the motor unit is defective but man, what a blow to have it shipped halfway across the world and have it last only a week. Now, the long process of figuring out who pays for having to ship it back halfway across the world and all the lost money in customs!

  52. Zan

    The Vortex Smart is advertised to simulate slopes up to 7 degrees. How does it handle slopes greater than 7 degrees in software like Zwift?

    And if anybody has tried using a Vortex with apps like TrainerRoad or Zwift I’d love to hear your impressions.

    • I will not speak on Zwift’s behalf but this is how we do it in our software:

      1) We feed road grade whatever that might be to a trainer and let the trainer handle it any way they like. We however ignore speed reported by trainer and calculate the speed in our software based on power reported by the trainer, current road grade, cyclist’s weight etc. This way we have consistency across various trainers.

      2) Some trainers are actually capable of simulating very steep inclines and your knees might not thank you if your bike is not equipped with proper gearing. For situations like this we let user to decide and set in options how to scale road grades. Again the speed is calculated as in case 1 so everything is still consistent.

      I think Zwift is doing something similar.

    • Zan

      Thanks for the reply. I’m asking because I’m trying to decide between the Tacx Vortex Smart and Bushido Smart. The Bushido is $200 more but can do grades up to 15 degrees. I’m trying to decide if the Vortex is good enough. Can you comment on how it might feel with Veloreality? Do you think it would be adequate?

  53. I did not order Bushido. The only reason I ordered Vortex Smart is that I can test our implementation this new FE-C trainer protocol with the actual hardware produced by independent vendor. So I can not really tell you how Bushido compares to Vortex in real life. As for our software: it is absolutely free as are our demo videos and online/group riding (the last one might become paid for item at some point). So download it and try it.

  54. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Just got my vortex smart, tried with Zwift but Zwift didn’t like my ANT+ usb dongle. It seems to work well with the very basic TacX app, and paired after a few tries with my 810.

    The 810 file on strava looks awesome and will totally change my workouts.

    The fact that it was 251 EUR was a huge win for me too! (just needed to change plugs from EUR to US/CAN style), had one lying around that fit.

    350$ CAD compared to 700$ CAD + tax locally was awesome.

    My stages just went in for warranty replacement, but when it comes back I will compare numbers between the Vortex and the Stages.

    • Zan

      Thanks for the update. Please report back when you get it working with zwift! I’m curious to know how responsive the resistance changes are when going up slopes. I’m also curious how it feels going up the steeper slopes because the website says the resistance only goes up to 7%.

    • Double-check that another application wasn’t ‘holding’ the ANT+ connection open (such as the older Tacx application, Garmin ANT agent, Garmin Express, etc…

    • Sylvester Jakubowski

      I did, it’s an older timex M502 stick and no go :(

  55. Christoph

    I’ve got some basic questions: For a Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 I think the way to go for Ant+ is an USB OTG Cable and e.g. the Suunto dongle – is that right?

    Which training apps for android do now work with the Tacx trainers? I’ve got the vortex smart.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Sylvester Jakubowski

      For the Nexus 5 I’d go with the link to play.google.com It worked really well on my old nexus 5 with ipBike. For the 7 you are stuck with the OTG route, or TacX has a micro usb ant+ adapter but I haven’t tried it.

  56. Kevin Carlson

    Thanks for the news, Sad to see they abandoned the non smart trainers in this update. I had been waiting for a long time to them to finally do this on the non-smart Vortex trainer, ad of late its only been used as a glorified trainer with no power numbers etc, have to use my power hub to get numbers. I do not like Tacx support and their what seems to be snoody mentality when it comes to making trainers “OPEN” I will keep using my Kurts.. best bang for the buck, now if only Kurt would make the in-ride on Ant+ lol..

  57. ThomasR

    Is Trainerroad adjusting resistance based on the average power it sees then? So by adjusting the smoothness value in TR, I get slower/faster reaction times from the trainer?

    With FE-C and Power Match in Trainerroad and 299€ for the Vortex Smart in EU, it certainly looks like a great deal. I haven’t seen any negative comments about this combination, so I just ordered a Vortex. A 7%/750W max shouldn’t be a problem for me, main interest is tri/TT anyway, but I’ll find out eventually.

  58. maddox

    I’ve recently bought a Vortex but have found that the power values are way out when compared to my other power meters (Stages, Powertap) – between 14-17% across both high and low power values. I emailed Tacx and they’ve acknowledged the problem and said they’re working on an update. This seems odd as these units have been out for a while. Anyone else experiencing the same problem? (ps: calibration was done on all devices)

    • I had similar and probably worse variation between kickr and my vectors.

      The solution was an update to the trainer road I use which allows you to control the trainer power from the other power meter, so my vector power is used to control the kickr.

      Other software has this option too now (eg wahoo fitness)

      My gut feeling is that their are variances from temperature and calibration that can affect the absolute reading in any power meter, and it is the relative changes over time that are most valuable for training.

  59. Ewan

    Have you been testing this trainer already? I don’t find any information on the Tacx website.

    link to pedal-pedal.co.uk

  60. Catalin

    Hi guys,

    I’m really tempted to grab a Vortex Smart, but I see very little reviews about it on youtube and the net. Has anyone tested it with Zwift in order to check if the app can control the resistance of this unit ?

    Man thanx !

    • RobHug

      A friend of mine has one and he raves about it. I just bought one today and will do a short Zwift session tonight and report back.

  61. Chris

    hello, would anyone know how accurate power measurement tacx bushido and vortex are?

    • As long as you calibrate it about 10-15 minutes in, I see very good accuracy between it and other power meters.

    • Maddox

      Is that with the Vortex or Bushido?

      This is the email I received from Tacx last week regarding my big discrepancy (15%) between the vortex and other PM’s:


      Indeed, there is some difference related to trainers and different powermeters
      However, in some cases the Vortex power unit has largers difference then in some cases are allowed.
      We have done some checks and preparing a new update that is coming soon.
      If you have Tacx Trainer software 4 and an ANT+ dongle then this update can also be done manual”

    • Both actually (Smart variants). In fact, I believe in my Pioneer or one of the other power meter posts I show some comparisons there.

      I’m not sure if there’s a specific situational bug they’re referring to, odd.

  62. Jeff

    Well, I pulled the trigger on a Bushido Smart after reading this and lusting after a smart trainer for over a year. I went this route vs. KICKR because I run a powertap hub. I debated Tacx vs. KICKR SNAP but was too impatient for the snap, and was able to find a Bushido for $250 less than the Snap price. I will follow up with a quick non DCr style review once I connect it to Zwift and T.R.

  63. ThomasR

    Sht, the German postal workers are on strike, so my Vortex package has been sitting in the same depot for 10 days now. Kickr Snap was an interesting move, but way overpriced and so is the new Tacx. Vortex and Bushidos must be selling like crazy now with the low prices and FE-C + TR support. I hope Garmin will add it to the 510 also, not only the 520.

  64. Darren

    Interesting stuff. I have an i-vortex and an i-magic in my garage but i use the imagic more as the computer i use it on keeps disconnecting the brake using tts4 advacned on the vortex. This means i can now use trainerroad software which will hopefully work! Also i love sufferfest videos but is annoying when the video says 70rpm and i have to reach for the controller to add resistance. Now i looks like tr will adjust it automatically in time with the video. Cool.

  65. Marlon

    Hi DCRainmaker,

    Question, I just bought the Bushido Smart (updated already to newest software version for FE-C), and my experiences in combination with Suunto ministick and TrainerRoad are that the signal is very weak and leads to a lot of signal drops or spikes. I need to use a usb extended cable to get in closer than 15 cm to get “OK” signal. Does this sounds familiar to anybody?

    I’ve got no problem with my Garmin ant+ GSC-10, that picks up the signal from a few meters.

    Tacx says that the Suunto isn’t strong enough and they advise to use the T2028 dongle from Tacx.
    To me it sounds more like a hardware/signal issue from the Bushido, but they don’t have more reported issues on that part.

    Regards and love you site!
    ~ Marlon

    • Wayne Schaap

      I have a Suunto Ministick and Tacx Bushido Smart as well and have no problems with dropouts when riding with Zwift.My notebook is about 3 meters away from the trainer.

    • Welcome to a world of wireless ;) I can not comment on T2028 dongle since I’ve never tested it but I can tell you that we’ve had few customers reporting much better results after switching to Garmin’s ANT USB-m stick (that was with KICKR). In either case it is highly recommended to use USB extension cable.

    • Marlon

      Thanks for the replies, so still with their own product it needs a cable? Really sounds like bad signal from the Bushido? Maybe fixable in a firmware upgrade?

  66. Pierre Davidsson

    Posted this in the Winter 2014-2015 Trainer App In-Depth Guide also but perhaps the question is better answered here…
    Is it posible to import a Trainer Road workout into the Tacx Trainer Software?

  67. JB

    Hi, the Tacx Vortex Smart looks very interesting, however the “Smart” part might not always be so smart! I had an update this weekend on the Tacx training app on my ipad and since that upgrade it keeps crashing! So, the question is, if you have an Tacx smart device, and no connection to an tablet or smarthpone it makes the device useless, right? Or is there still the possibility to train without any of these devices connected? I’m mainly looking at the Vortex Smart.

    • There are numerous ways to use the Tacx Smart trainers, so it’s really not dependent on the app – depending on how you use it. Some uses would be, while others would not.

    • ThomasR

      App crashing indeed, but deleting and reinstalling the app fixed the problem for me. Trainerroad eg. works fine without the Tacx app, so wouldn’t be a big deal anyway, for me at least. I have the Vortex Smart btw.

  68. TonyG

    Hi, is this just an extension to ANT+ that Tacx have jumped on? If they are going to adopt FE-C in the future then why can’t/won’t they just release the code for there own trainers allowing apps to control all of them? Having bought an i-Genius a couple of years ago (thinking it was the better model) it now looks like I would have been better off getting one a third of the price. On the TACX website is says they are looking at upgrades for some models, did they give you any info?

  69. Simon

    Hi.

    I own a the first version of the tacx genius I think it is called t-2000, and I would like to try out zwift.

    I have tried to use the tacx ANT+ dongel, but it seams that it can’t be used bye TSS4 and zwift at the same time. (My plan was to start TSS4 in catelyst, and use my powermeter in zwift)

    Can I buy a separate ANT+ dongle, and use that to connect/pair my powermeter and zwift, while the tacx dongle connects to TTS4?

    Do anyone know if that would work?

    -Simon

  70. David Tunney

    Me please

  71. Sam

    Hi Ray,

    I’m in the market for a resistance controlled trainer at the moment (and have been eyeing off the Vortex Smart), but I was just wondering if you would expect to be much change in price or products to be announced at the upcoming Interbike / EuroBike??

    I know recently you have been suggesting people hold off purchasing a power meter, just wondering if the same logic applied to trainers??

    Cheers
    Sam

  72. Marc

    I asked on another thread but maybe it was the wrong one: What is different about the B+ version of the Elite RTM?

  73. Owen

    When using TrainerRoad with the Bushido Smart acting solely to provide a signal for Speed/Cadence (I didn’t realise my ANT USB stick was only USB 1! Another one on order) does trainerroad still factor in the wheel size somehow? I got sensible speed readings on the Tacx App and my Garmin 800, but TrainerRoad gave me nonsense readings….All I can think is I manually entered a figure a while ago when using a different trainer, based on a different wheel size.

  74. Bob

    Will the Vortex give any guestimation of left / right power ?

  75. Brendan

    It looks like they have given up developing the update app for android (even pulled the beta APK from their forum) with no real suggestion as to why (failed testing.. project closed?).

    link to forum.tacx.com

    :( So much for the promise of a June update!

    • Christoph

      I can’t believe this?

      The convinced me to wait until Summer for a “big” announcement as I was very disappointed with Tacx and wanted to get the Kickr.

      Now I’m still stuck with their shitty software and cannot upgrade? This company is unbelievable

  76. Rowlarry

    Hi Ray- in light of the recent Interbike/Eurobike releases, is a Bushido Smart for around £300 a solid deal?
    Will be used mainly for Trainerroad and Zwift.
    Thanks in advance for your answer, and your time for the blog- immensely helpful.

  77. Jim

    I’m looking at the tacx vortex European price vs Canadian price as well. There is a really big price difference.

    Can someone confirm that all that is needed to use the European model with Canadian electricity is swap out the power cord? I’m thinking it needs a cord with a round and square end and the usual North American two prong plug on the other end. Within the motor must be electronics that detects the lower voltage (?).

    I did e-mail a shop and was told that I’d need a transformer.

  78. Kostas

    What are the differences between the Vortex and the Bushido? Is the Bushido worth the extra cost?

  79. gabe

    So i got my vortex paired with Trainer Road

    i did see that there is some weird speed issues with the Tacx Vortex profile but not the ANT FE-C Profile which i use.

    I just figured since it’s bluetooth you’d want to use that over the ANT profile.

    anways it works and the power #s arent that much different than on the powertap p1s.

  80. Pierre

    I have had some problems with my Vortex smart compared to my Garmin Vector and Powertap.
    It seems like there is something strange with the cadence and power when using ANT FE-C.
    The only cadence that would work regards to power was between 50 and 60.
    Otherwise there was something wrong and Trainerroad together with the Vortex didn´t applied enough power.

    The support was very good but they recommended to not use the ANT FE-C at the moment and instead use the pwoermeter as input.
    They said it would ANT FE-C and powermatching etc would be better in the new desktop version.

  81. Lee Parker

    Is the Android version of Tacx Utility available? I cant seem to find it?

  82. Priesty

    Hi Ray,
    As ever, I love the information you put on the website with very clear differentiation between fact and opinion.
    With regards to the new ANT+ FE-C for tacx trainers, does this mean that the these trainers (e.g. Tacx Bushido Smart) could be controlled by mac computers or would i still need an ipad/ iphone/ pc? Currently Tacx say that mac is unsupported.
    Cheers…

  83. Christoph

    Can anyone please recommend me a USB Ant+ Dongle that works with the PC (Windows) as well as Android (Nexus 5+7)?

    Thank you

  84. Strauss Florian

    Is the Tacx T2080 GENIUS Smart compatible with Zwift?

    Tacx say it is:
    link to tacx.com

    Zwift say it is not supported:
    link to support.zwift.com

    • The key difference between those two is the word ‘Smart’ ;)

      The Tacx Genius Smart IS compatible with Zwift.
      Whereas the original Tacx Genius is NOT compatible

      Zwift notes that the original is not compatible, while noting that it supports any FE-C compatible trainer (which is what the Genius Smart is).

  85. Jerry

    Hi,

    first of all thanks for your great work!

    Because of your information, I decided to buy a Bushido Smart and I’m very happy after my first test rides.

    However, there is one open question: I’d like to pair the Bushido’s ANT-stream (bike pod) with my Suunto Ambit 2 in order to record my trainings. Consequently, I have to maintain the wheel size for my bike pods in Movescount to enable a correct speed calculation. What (‘virtual’) tire size do you enter here?

    Thanks a lot!

    Best regards,
    Jerry

  86. Matthias

    Same question as above – can anyone recommend a USB Ant+ Dongle for the computer that also works on android with an OTG cable? Thanks a lot

  87. Mark

    I recently bought the Elite Real Axiom wired version with the thought that I would upgrade to a different software, since I could get it for $510. However, I found the wired software to be terrible and make the unit nearly useless since I could not change to a different software due to the wired version being a closed protocol. I am planning to send this unit back and buy something different. Would you recommend the TACX Vortex as a suitable unit? Also, what software would you recommend. I really wanted to download routes I have ridden from Garmin and re-ride them to improve my ability to get better. I also wanted to be able to either see the route in the map view or the satellite view as I rode it along with the elevation map. All suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Mark

      Sorry, did not mean for you to have to look at my ugly mug :-). I had thought it was the avatar at first.

    • No worries, fixed image (well, removed it, the only choice I have).

      I love the Tacx Vortex, just be sure you get the Vortex Smart. No smart, no go. With the Vortex and the Edge 520/1000, you can re-ride your ride straight from the Garmin. For other apps though, it’s best to check out the app guide: link to dcrainmaker.com

  88. SimonH

    Hi Ray, I am new to all this but bought a Tacx vortex smart based on your incredibly helpful article. Having a great time using kinomap so far. I understood from your review that Bluetooth can’t control the resistance on the vortex but kinomap seems to be doing just that somehow. I don’t have an ANT+ dongle, just my iPhone.
    Also can I ride previous ‘real’ rides from my garmin 810 on the vortex smart or is it just the 520 and 1000 models?
    Thanks.

  89. SimonH

    OK, just spotted your more recent article where you reported this. Sorry!

  90. Matthias

    How to upgrade?

    I’ve got a Vortex Smart and would like to use Kinomap – I’ve got a BT Stick and Ant+ Stick for Android and Windows. Can I upgrade my trainer? I heard the pulled back the android utility?

  91. Roberto

    Just bought the Vortex Smart for Zwifting – now Tacx seems to have pulled the utility app – none on the app store anymore. So no resistance control in Zwift. Any idea why they are doing this?

    • I saw a note mid-week that they had to pull the utility due to some issue, but that it was supposed to be back on Oct 26th.

      No matter, have you tried connecting to it with Zwift? All trainers made from mid-June would have the latest firmware, so there would be no reason to update it again to make it work (optimizations perhaps, but it should find it). Obviously a unit may have sat on a shelf somewhere for a while, but may be worth the try.

  92. Patrick

    Quick question from Denmark :)

    BKool states (on their website) that the Tacx Vortex Smart is compatible with their software.

    So if I buy a Tacx Vortex Smart will I be able to use the features of the BKool- software to the same extent as the BKool turbotrainer?

    And do I just need a ANT+ dongle (Garmin for instance) to connect it to my Mac?

    Thanks in advance for any replies!

    /Patrick

    • There are some features that are only supported on BKOOL trainers initially (outlined a bit in the post), whereas other features are available to all trainers (such as FE-C trainers like the Vortex Smart). And yup, just the ANT+ adapter is ok.

  93. Ricky

    Thanks your site once again helped me bit in picking out the right gear, just ordered me a Tacx Vortex Smart.
    So Zwift here i come :-) Goodbye Rulletour.

  94. Ricky

    Do i understand this right ? so Vortex Smart+Zwift is compatible with USB Ant+ Adapter
    But to use Vortex Smart+TTS4 you must have TACX own USB ANT+ Adapter ?

  95. Ricky

    I thought so 2 but i actually havent read that it is compatible anywhere.
    But i will know in a couple of days when ive got it setup @home.

    Thanks for the reply.
    And a great site.

  96. Ricky

    That worked great no problem at all not with zwift or TTS4 both working great with Suunto ANT+ Movestick :-)
    This is on a PC Win10 computer.

    Im happy :-)
    Thanks again for great site, helped me 100% to pick the right stuff for me

  97. Buck

    I thought the Tacx Satori Smart would allow Zwift to control its resistance when climbing etc. I’ve just bought the Satori on line along with an ANT+ dongle and USB extension cable so all prepare but now I’m not sure.

    I brought it home tonight but don’t want to open it as I think I’m going to have to send it back and spend a few more £££££ on a Vortex smart trainer.

    I submitted a ticket to Zwift but as yet no reply. Any advice greatly appreciated.

  98. Ricky

    Hello Buck
    I would say that cause there isnt a motor controlling the brake (you are doing it manually) there is no way zwift can control or simulate the resistance.

    return it and pick up a Vortex you wont regret it i promise you that.

    Did my Zwift FTP today i think i manage to push myself started noosebleed when there was like 3 minutes left :-)

    Good luck and ill hope i see you in Zwift
    (Dämn good program for the dark cold winter months)

  99. Buck

    Thanks both.

    I found the “smart” aspect confusing and thought that as it was smart it would be.

    Ah well, off for a refund and to order the Vortex!

    Hope your nosebleed is OK now @Ricky

  100. Ricky

    Be sure to buy vortex smart.
    Nose is fine ?

  101. Still not supported on Android
    This is awful support from Tacx

  102. Will

    I purchased a Vortex smart trainner a few weeks ago, which is great! I have just downloaded Zwift and and am looking to get the most out of the game. Does the Tacx T2990 Smart upgrade kitenable me to change gear in the game? if not what upgrade does this offer for Zwift?

    • Buck

      I’ve now got my Vortex Smart on order after rturning the Satori Ricky’s advice.

      Will, if I’ve understood your question, the T2990 upgrade allows you to connect your Smart trainer to a computer and to use the Tacx Advanced software. For the Vortex this means that the computer reads the performance data and therefore automatically regulates the resistance of the trainer.
      As I understand it, with the latest firmware update you don’t need the T2990 to control your Vortex trainer in Zwift. Now you just need an ANT+ dongle in your laptop and perhaps a USB extension lead to make sure the ANT+ is near your trainer/rear of your bike.

      Others may be able to offer more detailed advice as the above is my understanding from reading up on sites like this as my machine is still “in transit”

    • The upgrade kit merely gives you a USB ANT+ stick. Your trainer is already ANT+ capable if you have the stick.

  103. Frank

    Ray, were you able to control the resistance of vortex smart with the edge 520? I can’t seem to get this to work. No problem setting the resistance with Zwift.

  104. Colby Owens

    Have you tried the Tacx app out on an amazon product. i.e. Amazon Fire tablet.
    How does that work with the Vortex, HRM, etc?

    Thanks!

  105. Hey Ray. Thanks for all the great reviews. It’s my go to spot for trusted and thorough review. I suggest garmin, bushido et all pay you for clicks like pay per click google.

    Re: Bushido Smart

    Is there a minimum ipad generation I need. Tried my older ipad and it won’t connect. I don’t mind a new ipdad, just need to know what gen works.

    On zwift with zwift controlled resistance, the wattage require to spin is incredible – the watts shown definitely don’t match the effort I’m putting into it. I couldn’t get out of the small ring.

  106. Hlvd

    Hi Ray, is there a known solution for the Tacx Vortex Smart working with a power meter using Trainerroad?
    My Vortex will max it’s resistance during trainerroad sessions when paired with a power meter, making it unusable.
    Apparently a glitch in Trainerroad’s software.

    I’m guessing as the Vortex is on your recommendation list there must be a lot out there, anyone know a solution?

    • Anthony

      Hlvd, the Kickr Snap does the same thing using my Quarq are the power source. Other Snap owners have reported the same issue with TR, but I have heard one person went to an original Kickr and it works perfectly.

  107. Hlvd

    Unfortunately I couldn’t afford the Kickr, so thought the Vortex was too good to be true.

    Maybe it is, but not with Trainerroad.

    • Kostas

      I had the same problem. Here is the response from TR customer support.

      Hey Kostas,

      Thanks for contacting us! The first thing to note is that you’re using PowerMatch which uses the wattage coming from your power meter to control the Vortex’s resistance. Due to the instantaneous measurements coming from your powermeter, we’ve found that Vortex can sometimes get confused and set the wrong resistance. To fix this we suggest using a constant wattage offset which should help with some of these erroneous resistance changes. You can figure out what the offset should be by comparing each device’s power readings under the Devices tab and finding the difference. Once you do this you can set a constant offset under the Profile tab in the app. You can read all about PowerMatch and how to set up your trainer here…

      link to support.trainerroad.com

      The next step requires the Tacx Utility App on your phone. First, you’ll want to make sure the Vortex’s firmware is updated. You can see how to do this here…

      link to tacxdata.com

      Second, you’ll want to use the Tacx Utility App to calibrate the Vortex before each workout. At the moment, there are some issues with calibrating using the TrainerRoad app, but the Tacx app is working correctly. Once you calibrate using the Tacx app it will store the settings internally and transfer them to TrainerRoad once it’s paired.

      I hope this helps and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. :)

      Cheers!

      Dayton Adams
      Customer Support

    • Kostas

      Apparently, the fix should be in the beta version soon. I also tried the same (controlling the Vortex with the power meter) with PerfPro and it works just fine.

    • scott

      has anyone gotten a vortex smart to work well with TR? I had major issues last year then went to a warmer clime and rode outside. I have the new app, just tried, and am getting nothing. I have TR, Smart, and Powertap G3. If someone has this working at all, can you give me what settings you have. thanks.

    • Bob

      It didn’t work well using powermatch but is good with just the Vortex. I had exactly the same set up. TR support is great, they will help you out I’m sure.

      If you are getting literally nothing then there is a lack of connectivity to your phone I guess?

  108. Hlvd

    I think the only solution for now is to do another FTP test using just the trainer’s power measurement and use that to control future workouts.

    You can still have your true watts on the Garmin Edge.

    That’s the only solution I can think of till Trainerroad sort themselves out.

  109. Hlvd

    Tried a workout tonight with the Vector pedals unpaired.
    I managed to get the power pretty closely matched by doing a free ride and adjusting the tension on the Vortex Smart.
    I also put a cadence magnet on the crank which made the Vortex’s wildly inaccurate cadence redundant.

    It’s better than nothing but would be great to have this problem sorted.

  110. luca di persio

    Dear DC,
    first of all let me thank you for such a great article !
    Then, I would like to ask you if you know a methods, some sort of hidden secret, in order to make the Bushido Smart working with the TTS3 tacx software… I am not able to find such a backdoor, even if I am using a Tacx ANT dongle with cable, so that the trainer and the ANTenna are very close each other..

    Could you help me ?

    Best,
    LuCa

  111. Giovanny

    Hi, do you know if I can use a garmin or bkool ANT+ dongle for my tacx bushido? Or the only one ANT+ dongle compatible is the tacx antenna? Thanks

    • Buck

      I use a Suunto ANT+ dongle and have no issues. The key is to make sure the dongle is near enough the Bushido for it to connect.

  112. Greg Hyde

    Wondering what you make of the Tacx flow t2240 vs the vortex?

  113. Andrew Chapman

    Thanks once again great review. I have since purchased one of the Vortex Smarts (still to use it) However I take it it means that there now is now need any of the adapters e.g. Tacx ANT+ Android micro-USB Adapter, Tacx ANT+ USB Desktop Adapter, and ANT+ iOS Adapter etc

  114. Matthias

    Trying to figure out if i need a ANT+ dongle with my setup i think here is the best place to get the answer.
    My setup will be:

    -Tacx Bushido smart
    -Mac Book pro (late 2011, supporting bluetooth) -> control of trainer via Trainerroad or Zwift
    -Iphone 5 -> firmware updates, controlling trainer for “staring at the wall”-style sessions

    i didn’t order a ANT+ dongle because i think i will be able to pair the Bushido with the Mac via bluetooth smart. – am i wrong?

    • Hey Matthias,

      You’re going to need an ANT+ stick for your Mac to get full resistance control with the Bushido Smart. Tacx uses a proprietary Bluetooth protocol but also uses an industry standard known as ANT+ FE-C. That means, as long as you have an ANT+ stick, you’ll be able to connect your trainer to TrainerRoad and get full resistance control.

      If you connect it via Bluetooth, you’ll only be pairing as a power meter without resistance control.

      Hope this helps!

  115. Bob Douglas

    You should be fine, provided your Mac supports Bluetooth 4 aka Smart

  116. noel kneeland

    I am ordering a Tacx NEO, and want to know the easiest way to run zwift, and have it be displayed on a TV. with the least amount of trouble…I need simplicity. could I get a list of what you would use.

  117. Rob

    I’m going to ask a really stupid question or two.

    Why do I need to change/upgrade my i-genius trainer when the TACX software controlled it fine?They (TACX) are saying that not enough ANT channels are available on the old chip but why does it need them when TACX’s own software managed to control the device perfectly?

    If it’s a channel issue why can’t a firmware update be used to re-map the channels to the most common ones used. Or is it a software issue.

    Please don’t be too sarcastic with any replies this is a question I have tried to find answers to but so far have failed. Maybe the more knowledgeable can explain it to me. Before I stupid up more money on upgrading a motor…

    Thanks in anticipation.

  118. Sam Anderton

    One query I have with the 520 is that if I connect both my crank based power meter and my tacx smart trainer to the device, will it read power from the crank when controlling the trainer, or take power readings from the trainer? Is there any way to override what it does as default? Ideally I want to take power readings from the crank based power meter and just control the resistance of the trainer accordingly.

    Thanks